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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreigners Face May Drug Trial

A British and a Dutch woman arrested on charges of smuggling more than 9 kilograms of cocaine to Russia are likely to face trial by May 6, officials said Wednesday.

"Unless there are any unexpected questions the investigation should be concluded by April 6 and the trial should start within the next month," said Vladimir Sergeyev, who is heading the investigation for the Russian police.

Briton Karen Henderson, 18, and her Dutch fellow passenger, Suzanne Gerarda, 23, were arrested Feb. 6 at Sheremetyevo 2 airport, where they were each found to be carrying about 4.5 kilos of cocaine in false-bottomed suitcases. The two women had arrived on a flight from Cuba and were planning to fly on to Warsaw. They are now awaiting trial in Moscow's Butyrskaya prison.

Sergeyev said that he did not foresee any special conditions that would hold up the investigation.

"I can guarantee that the drugs were in the suitcases," he said, refusing to comment on whether or not the cocaine had been planted.

In interviews last week, Sergeyev said that Gerarda had immediately confessed to transporting the narcotic but would not say on whose behalf. Another investigator, Yelena Gerasimova, said Henderson denied any knowledge of the cocaine in her suitcase.

If convicted, Sergeyev said, the two women face between six and 15 years in a labor camp.

While Russia joined the Council of Europe in February, it has not signed the international convention on the transfer of sentenced persons, said Tanja Kleinsorge, an official dealing with legal affairs and human rights at the Council of Europe. This means that if convicted, the two women have almost no chance of serving their sentences in their home countries.

"Even if Russia were to sign today the decision could not be ratified or applied until 1998 at the earliest," Kleinsorge said.